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Book review: Altogether Us edited by Jenna Reimersma

Altogether Us: Integrating the IFS Model with Key Modalities, Communities, and Trends
Edited by Jenna Riemersma, with Richard Schwartz
Pivotal Press (2023)

 

Review

Internal Family Systems is a model of personal transformation and healing that has been increasingly popular amongst various helping professionals including psychotherapists, social workers, spiritual care providers, and coaches in business and/or government sectors all across the world. Altogether Us, by Jenna Riemersma, is a response to this global and emerging trend and is an ambitious attempt to demonstrate the diverse uses and integrations of how IFS is being developed for, and with, diverse communities and practitioners.

The aim of the book is clear and that is to encourage others across a range of healing professions to be exposed to IFS and for transformational dialogue and practice/s to emerge. One of the major hopes for the book is to address the historically inaccessibile nature of the model (as it has been restricted to individualized psychotherapy sessions for those who can afford it) and make it more widely available for diverse communities.

The book begins with an opening chapter by IFS founder, Richard Schwartz, which explains the history of IFS and the hopes he has for IFS to continue to evolve and play a role in the significant shift in the consciousness of humanity needed for our time. Each subsequent chapter follows a similar structure of demonstrating how IFS might be integrated with other healing paradigms and concludes with sections on “key takeaways” and “going deeper,” which are very helpful summaries of each chapter, and which can lead toward further exploration for the impassioned reader.

The comprehensive book is organized into five sections: 1) origins and access, 2) emerging trends, 3) intersectionality, 4) model integration, and 5) relationships and family and each of the sections allow for nascent conversations within the IFS community to expand, based on the growing edges and personal experiences of pioneering practitioners from around the world. I was particularly moved by the intersectionality section and the ways in which the model of IFS can be reconfigured so that it reflects the wisdom of those the dominant culture of society marginalizes. Rather than locate intersectionality in the third section, I would have loved to see these insights as foundational to the entire work.

Because of the vast diversity of the book, the conversation within each chapter is rather introductory, with a significant amount of each chapter spent on setting the table for the integration being proposed. Therefore, it seems, a reasonable next step would be for various authors from the book to build upon what they wrote in the various chapters and turn it into a series of short blogs or perhaps even a book for further reflection and analysis. Additionally, it was difficult to identify any significant critiques or warnings about the opportunities and risks of bringing IFS into relation with other models and/or perhaps the fact that the “core” of IFS could evolve or mutate significantly based on the pioneering nature of the proposal.

While there was a definite concern expressed about quality control from the IFS point of view, it seems an IFS centered response would trust each person’s system to transform the model in ways that coherent with its legacy, but also take it in new directions.

For exploring and open practitioners, this may be just the resource they need to look further into the IFS community for possible insights and gleanings. It is also a great resource for well-experienced practitioners to sharpen and illuminate their own repertoire of offerings. I look forward to participating in the conversations this book opens up and seeing how IFS will continue to be promoted in evolutionary ways which are so needed at this tipping point of humanity.

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Author´s Bio

Author

  • Aizaiah Yong

    Rev. Dr. Aizaiah G. Yong (he/him) is an ordained Pentecostal Christian minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). His work centers on QTBIPOC communities. He is an IFS practitioner.

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